If you’re a Colorado native or transplant, then you are most likely aware of the status hiking a 14er can bring. And if you’re not a Colorado person, you’re probably thinking “what is a 14er?”
Well friends, let me tell you! A 14er is a mountain that is taller than 14,000 ft, and in CO we have 58 of them! That’s right, 58! I’ve heard people say CO has 100 or 15, but if you want to be taken seriously, you should know the right number.
Ok, so now that we have established what a14er is and how many there are, let’s talk about how people have turned hiking them into some kind of contest. Ah, it makes me crazy whenever I’m hiking a 14er and there are people talking so loudly about how “this is my 5th one, how many did you do?” or “I can’t wait to summit all of them” or “I thought this one was supposed to be easy!”
It. Makes. Me. Crazy.
This may sound harsh, but I really could care less if a person is a 14er hiker. I mean on dating apps in CO, it seems like there’s a million dudes who use the classic summit picture as bait to “prove” they’re outdoorsy. In the words of Cher from Clueless, as if!
I know this makes me sound snobby, but I just really value people who are into hiking for the sake of adventure and not status. Being outdoorsy is not a competition. If you want to hike 14ers because you enjoy being challenged and taking in the views, then yes! Please hike all the mountains! But if you’re someone who is doing it just to prove to people you’re a “real Coloradan” then you might as well not be there.
This is a very biased opinion from a Colorado local, but I want you to know that it’s annoying if you’re obnoxious about these mountains. So I have three simple tips for you if you’d like to avoid being one of these people.
1 – Stop Talking About It!
Alright, this is so simple. If you are hiking a 14er, don’t talk about how you’re on one! Everyone there knows! Everyone else is trying to get up the darn thing, don’t make it seem like you’re doing something better than anyone else.
Now, if someone asks you about how many you’ve done or something like that, totally answer! So if you were wondering, here’s my answer: I’ve done 14 and I hope to get 20 done by the end of the summer. If it doesn’t happen though, it’s all good.
2 – Know Before You Go
There’s nothing worse than being at 13,000+ ft and running out of water! I ran into so many people over the years who have had this problem on 14ers. They are ready with their summit beers, but are not ready with the most essential liquid. Everyone drinks different amounts of water, but you must be prepared!
Hiking up to 14,000 ft is challenging, no matter which mountain you’re on. The air is thin, the climbs are steep, and altitude sickness can sneak up on literally anyone at any time. Make sure you know the route, have extra food and water, and tell people where you are going beforehand. This will help save you from any unnecessary anguish while you’re trekking, and keep you safe if anything were to go wrong.
3 – Enjoy the View!
I know a lot of peak baggers who get to the summit, snap a pic, then start to walk away. Now, if there’s weather rolling in or the clouds start to look suspect, I completely understand. After all, you can’t stay on the summit forever. However, if it’s a nice day and you just worked hard to get to the summit, why not stay awhile?
I challenge any and everyone who climbs 14ers to take at least five minutes to put their phones down and look around. Take it all in for yourself. Be proud of your accomplishment and look how far you’ve come. Don’t worry about updating your instagram, or what caption you’ll use, just enjoy being at one of the highest points in the US of A!
Alright, those are just some of my thoughts, but I hope they give a new perspective. Hiking up these mountains is a privilege, not a right, so remember to take care of these tall beauties.
Thanks for reading, y’all!